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Published: 13 May 2023

By Andy Ross

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The romance of a Singer sewing machine

This 1906 Singer sewing machine is now in the studio.

The Singer sewing machine has long been a favourite with home sewers and dressmakers. 

The history of the illustrious machines started in 1851 when Singer Corporation began in the United States. By the 1880s, the manufacture of the Singer sewing machine was being undertaken in Glasgow in the largest factory of its kind in the world. More than 13,000 machines could be produced per week and rail conections connected the different departments in the building to the freight capacity of the railway.  Those days are long gone but the machines continue to sell worldwide. For more on this fascinating history here is the Wikipedia article and here is a timeline

This week we were lucky enough to buy an early model of the treadle operated machine, this one in a wheeled cabinet with beautiful carvings on its side, and on its front drawers. It is possible to trace the machine's date of manufacture using the model number on the base plate - H483044 - and this particular one is a model 15, made in July 1906. The design on it is called "Tiffany". As the studio does not have electricity, it is very useful to have a machine that is foot-operated, and one that works. One of the small drawers on the front of the cabinet holds all the attachments and a booklet about operating the machine, and with a new belt to drive the wheel, a spot of oil, and some gentle cleaning the machine is now running freely. 

Here are some photographs of the cabinet and the machine. How lucky I feel to have a little bit of history like this to use in the studio.